HP announced a slew of Android tablets today. Tucked in amongst the HDs and the EXTREMES is the Slate8 Pro. As the name indicates, this slate is aimed at people who are looking to do more than just play games on their tablet (though it does that), though it’s still a consumer product and not one meant for enterprise.
HP hopes to snag folks who want a tablet they can take to work as well as use for multimedia kickback at home. The Pro is also aimed squarely at people considering the iPad Mini, sharing that tablet’s screen size and aspect ratio but sporting a higher resolution. Small Android tablets have the Mini beat on pixel density, is that enough to tempt you?
The Slate8 Pro is wider than most small Android tablets since the screen has an unusual for Android 4:3 aspect ratio. Combined with a 1600 x 1200 resolution, you get a nice amount of screen space and good quality in a pretty compact package. Still, it’s a little less easy to hold in the hand than the Nexus 7 or one of HP’s 7-inchers. The display offers wide viewing angles and gets nice and bright.
The overall weight and heft of the device is comfortable for reading and playing games. The comfortably curved edges help it feel good sitting in the hand and the tablet is well-balanced.
Unlike the two Slate HD tablets, the Slate8 Pro can boast a top of the line chip inside: Nvidia’s Tegra 4. In my hands-on time I noted smooth operation and graphics, which is to be expected.
Like the Slate7 Extreme, the Pro also has a mini HDMI port for exporting to an HDTV. This is good for gaming, presentations, sharing photos, and watching video. You can do all of that on the Pro itself–this size screen strikes a good balance for media consumption. Unfortunately, the speakers sit on the bottom of the device and thus you shouldn’t expect stellar audio quality from them.
HP will pre-load a suite of apps designed for productivity, including Kingsoft Office, HP File Manager, HP ePrint, and HP Connected Photo. The latter two connect with HP computers and printers to make it easy to print from anywhere without wires and to find, share, and edit photos taken by any connected device, including cameras.
The 8MP camera on the back is decent. Better than most tablet cameras, even in challenging lighting. I snapped a few pictures and printed them on site. Though not quite the quality you want for everlasting memories, it is possible to snap something good enough to hang on the fridge.
Aside from the micro HDMI port there’s microSD and micro USB. It will come with 16GB of internal storage and does have
1GB 2GB of RAM. It will launch with Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. HP doesn’t cover Android with a skin, so aside from the pre-loaded apps the operating system is just the way Google intended.
Overall, the HP Slate8 Pro looks and feels like a solid tablet. It’s not as robust as a true enterprise slate would be, but offers enough power and productivity content to make it useful in a work setting. If the performance turns out to be as good as it seems, HP will have at least made an Android tablet on par with the current best devices on the market. Now they just have to get everyone’s attention with it.
No price yet, and no firm release date, either. HP says sometime in November, which is cutting it close for holiday shopping.
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